For the final installment of holiday video gift guides, I decided to do one for the kiddos! You won’t find hover boards, drones or anything crazy here. These aren’t necessarily the hottest NEW gifts of 2017 because those will end up at the bottom of the toy bin by February 2018. These are items I have personally tested with my children and they have received our family seal of approval.
Here is a gift for both you AND your children! If your kids are like mine, they have about a million stuffed animals that you have to corral. I bought these bean bag-like bags that hold ALL of their stuffed animals- I allow them a certain number to sleep with, and the rest go in the bag. Kids can then sit on them, snooze on them, read, etc… MIRACLE, I tell ya! I am doing a separate video just on this, so keep an eye out.
VR is so hot right now, but do your kids know how it works? How it is used in the world? This book explains everything they need to know, and includes a VR Viewer and a smartphone app download to put in practice everything they learned.
Add this to the VR book to enhance the experience. It is the first holographic toy you can hold in the palm of your hand, merging the physical and digital worlds.
Kids are complete sponges, so stick a book in front of them with incredible illustrations, more than 1,000 amazing facts and a mysterious 1/2 fact to determine if it is true or false. My 6 year old isn’t reading yet, but loves the pictures and hearing new info to spout to his classmates.
I received the Osmo Coding set to review about a year ago, and my kids loved it. There are a number of different programs for the system, including a Pizza Shop and a Hot Wheels Mind Racers Kit. Osmo uses an iPad, base and camera to create interactive games that are just as educational as they are entertaining.
If you are done with markers and crayons (how many caps have been left off YOUR markers??), try these two crafts from Melissa and Doug. The Water Wow sets are re-usable- you simply fill the pen with water and kids “paint” the scenes with it, revealing characters, animals and more. Let the pad dry and play again! My kids also adore Scratch Art- a wooden stylus is used to scratch away a matte coating to reveal colors and drawings. Both are super affordable!
I want to get my kids started on music lessons, but honestly- our schedules are already too busy. I discovered Loog Mini Guitars that are designed for kids to learn! They have only 3 strings, play like a regular guitar, and have a kid-friendly app that helps them learn. At $79, this is the perfect intro price for a musical instrument. The website says kids can learn to play songs the correct way on day one- I will write a full review after the holidays!
Crayola Pip-Squeaks Washable Marker Travel Set
I added this on a whim to my Amazon shopping cart and immedately purchased another when I saw how convenient it was. This handy set includes 25 washable mini markers and paper- I throw this in my bag every time we will be waiting for more than 2 minutes somewhere.
These labels are magic- dishwasher safe, waterproof, laundry safe and non-toxic. I added my kids photos to the labels so items are more likely to be returned ASAP. The designs are SO adorable, exactly what you would expect from Minted!
I was (am?) obsessed with craft kits as a child, and received a couple of the Ann Williams kits to review (Mini Pom Pom Kit and Purse Stencil Kit). They added a few more- I think the unicorn kit is adorable, and the tree kit lets kids make their own jewelry holder!
My main gripe when it comes to chalk- the DUST! I met the company Jaq Jaq at the Chicago Baby Show this past winter, and tested out these coloring books. This chalk does NOT create dust and wipes off easy. The books have cute themes as well- I purchased the Degas book for my daughter and the Dinosaur book for my son.
Preschool Prep DVDs
Ok, your kids might roll their eyes at an educational DVD but pop these on and they will pause what they are doing to absorb the info. I have the Letters, Numbers, Colors and Shapes DVD when my kids were toddlers and have moved on to the Sight Words series. The illustrations are intriguing for children, and my two race to identify the words on the screen. This is guilt-free TV, guys!
Ice Cool Board Game
One of my top picks from the Chicago Toy & Game Fair! Kids get to flick penguins around the board, which is much more interesting than say….Monopoly (I want to cry every time my kids pull that game down from the shelf).
Being silly together is such fun as a family, and Utter Nonsense is full of funny accents and improv. Players have to combine phrases and accents and are encouraged to improvise- pretty hilarious for all involved.
I love giving toys, games and the like but the moments I remember most from my childhood are the experiences. Here are a few that will wow your kids and last way beyond the wrapping paper.
Swim lessons are absolutely the gift that keeps on giving. My children LOVE Goldfish Swim School– the water is incredibly warm, the teachers are young and FUN, and there is no pressure to join a swim team. They are offering holiday package deals- contact your local Goldfish to see the bundle they have! Ours has a cute retail bundle with a logo pom pom hat and fleece blanket paired with a gift certificate for 2 months of swim lessons and registration fee.
I first took my son to see Blue Man Group when he was 5, and I have NEVER heard him laugh so hard in his life. I simply adore the fact that the Blue Men are kids at heart- they are silly, goofy, playful…everything that kids can relate to. I highly recommend taking your kiddos to the show- select performances are just $59 right now! They also have a bunch of fun packages- Poncho Seats, VIP Experience, etc… Read my Blue Man Group Review here!
When my daughter was 2, I enrolled her in ballet. She was a HOT MESS and totally not ready for that class, but I had already paid the full amount. Sound familiar? Try Pearachute, an app that allows kids to drop into the hottest classes into the Chicagoland area. No long-term commitments, just reserve your spot and pop in. Purchase a month (4 credits) for $39- ideal for that looooong winter break looming with nothing planned.
Cheers to giving the gift that will light up your kids’ faces!